Covering around 1,000 km2 in Rivers State, southern Nigeria, Ogoniland has been the site of oil industry operations since the late 1950s. Ogoniland has a tragic history of pollution from oil spills and oil well fires, yet until recently no systematic scientific information has been available about the ensuing contamination. The UNEP Report on Ogoniland (2011) is the first extensive independent scientific assessment of the region. It states that Ogoniland has suffered decades of neglect, not only by marginalization in relation to oil revenues, but also with regard to quality of infrastructure, rising unemployment rates (among its predominantly youthful population), high levels of HIV/AIDS infection rates and high levels of poverty.
Only about 27% of households in the Niger Delta have access to safe drinking water and 30% to electricity, both below the national average. There are 82,000 people per doctor, rising to 132,000 in some areas, more than three times the national average of 40,000. While 76% of Nigerian children attend primary school, only 30-40% attend in some parts of the Delta.
Most traditional livelihood options are destroyed, fishing and farming being the worst hit by the high levels of hydrocarbon pollution in the region. These abysmal human development indices have been the source of ongoing wave of attacks by militants on oil and gas infrastructure in the Niger Delta. This is exacerbating an already bad security and social situation for local communities. The ensuing high levels of insecurity, political instability, unemployment and bleak economic opportunities led to significant inter- and intra-communal tensions, as well as an upsurge in violent crimes against members of the local population.